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Drive strong results with diverse teams

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in Leaders & Managers,Team Building

When you gather a group with different backgrounds, you lay the groundwork for better performance.

Researchers at MIT and George Washington University studied eight years of data at a big U.S. professional services company. Inspecting revenue figures, employee surveys and other workplace metrics, researchers found that more diverse teams significantly outperform homogeneous groups.

Diverse groups, especially teams that include men and women, tend to outperform less diverse groups because they bring a wider range of perspectives to solve problems. Shifting from all-male or all-female teams to coed teams can boost revenues by 41%, research shows.

But there’s a catch: Employees on diverse teams reported lower job satisfaction rates than those in less diverse groups. Specifically, members of all-male or all-female teams expressed more comfort with each other than those in groups with both genders.

Reviewing the findings, a researcher concluded, “People are more comfortable around people who are like them,” leading them to “socialize more and work less.” The camaraderie that flows from staffers who work with people of their own gender can help everyone get along better.

Nevertheless, it pays to seek diversity when forming teams. Create a rich stew of wide-ranging individuals if you want them to produce at a high level.

At the same time, take steps to foster trust and cooperation. Realize that they may be happier if they could work with people just like them, so incentivize participants to get along with each other and take pride in collective accomplishments.

— Adapted from “Do Men and Women Like Working Together?,” Rachel Emma Silverman, www.wsj.com.

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